Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Was Sikandar Lodhi a "kind monarch"?

Many people, notably the breed of historians who write Indian school textbooks, like to say that Sikandar Lodhi was very "kind." Among muslims, he is often cited as an example of a "very kind" monarch who built rest houses for pilgrims. The fine print is that the pilgrims had to be muslims. For Hindus, he, like most other medieval rulers, were cruel beyond description. Here is a story of the "kindness" of Sikandar Lodhi that is well known among students of medieval Indian history. Bodhan - a renunciate sadhu (monk), was burnt alive for only saying this:

"Islam and Hindu Dharma are both equally acceptable to God if followed with sincerety."

This detail is reported in "History of the Delhi sultanate" by M.M. Syed. It appears on page 176, and can even be seen on google books. The book gives further examples of his "kindness" such as:

"..he frequently razed temples to the ground and erected mosques in thier place, as evidenced by his behaviour at Mandrail, Utgir, and Narwar. At Mathura he prevented hindus from bathing in their sacred ghats or having themselves shaved.

The stones of broken hindu idols were given away to butchers (of cows) to be used as weights."

Interestingly, Sikandar Lodhi's mother was a hindu!

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